Tuesday we carried along the canal through the 6 locks of the Astwood flight; a journey of 1.77 miles that took 2hours!
Charlie worked the locks,
whilst I handled the boat. It’s a pretty stretch of canal and one of the lock cottages has a very pretty garden and veggie patch.
We stopped for the night, and planned to do the next 6 locks of the Stoke flight on Wednesday. The sky that evening was stunning. Once again Charlie worked the locks. I’m getting used to this easier life of boat handling.
We stopped at The Queens Head pub as there were moorings opposite. The pub has had a recent makeover and has al fresco dining as well as a teepee to hire at £100. We gave it a miss as was a little expensive; but was a popular venue as it was very busy.
We are now in place to do the Tardebigge flight of locks, but first on Thursday we visited the Avoncroft museum of historic buildings; which was a mile walk from the canal, but along a fairly busy road, so a bit of traffic dodging was in order. We are now on the outskirts of Bromsgrove, and I must admit neither of us had heard of this museum. But we weren’t disappointed. Another great collection of buildings that have either been rescued by, or donated to the Avoncroft foundation, and re-erected as near as possible to the original buildings as they can. Sometimes only small portions of the buildings remained and modern materials have had to be used. This museum was founded in the late 1960’s and is continually growing with buildings mainly from the West Midlands area, that otherwise would have been demolished and lost forever.
We were up early on Friday to to the Tardebigge flight of locks. I had made coffee, cake and squash, and we had a good breakfast waiting, as it was a bit early to eat by the time we left at 7.30am. We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy journey, as there are 30 locks in the flight over a distance of just over 2 miles, with no stopping points in between; the longest lock flight in the UK apparently.
Charlie worked the first 12 locks before caving in. The paddles are very stiff, and not even my super ratchet windlass is of any help. All the locks were in our favour luckily, which made life easier, and we managed to have breakfast in one of the locks along the way; washed down with lots of coffee and juice. Thirsty work. I then swapped over and did the next lot of locks (wishing I was steering the boat).
We did 29 locks on Friday between us. Met 4 boats coming down as we were nearing the end, and stopped at the visitor moorings before the top lock. A bottle of red was waiting and was much appreciated with dinner, after all our hard work. In the afternoon though we had a visit from Jehovah’s Witness’s, thats a first. I was very polite and after a little chat about boating they accepted I didn’t want their leaflet.Saturday was forecast rain so we decided to stay put. I prepared dinner in readiness for Sunday. Again in the afternoon we had more visitors knocking. This time some young girls from the local stables selling cakes left over from their horse show. I purchased a few cupcakes. They must have had a wet show as the rain was quite heavy in the afternoon. We do have the fire lit now as the evenings are definately cooler.
Today we have moved again. Through 1 lock this time, filled up with water and the usual sanitary stuff at Tardebigge Wharf; got the washing machine going as the sun was shining; and 2 tunnels later we are at Alvechurch. We do have a plan now though; to get to see the cratch cover repair man before the end of October, to get our minor repairs done. He is currently on the Grand Union so we are heading that way now to Norton junction. Then it will be checking the stoppages to make sure we don’t get stuck anywhere we don’t want to be!
It seems strange that we are climbing upwards back toward Birmingham and the phone and 3G signal is getting worse!! It’s like being back in Cornwall!
Finally a picture that sums up autumn.